Maharashtra: Reduction in rates for Covid treatment a blow to rural healthcare facilities

For Class B cities, the rates have been capped at Rs 3,000 for routine ward and isolation, and it is Rs 2,400 for Class C cities.

Several small and medium hospitals have expressed disappointment over a further reduction in Covid-19 treatment rates, specially at healthcare facilities in rural areas. The Maharashtra government on June 1 modified the existing government resolution on capping Covid-19 treatment rates, which will now remain in force till August 31 this year.

Dr Sanjay Patil, chairman of the Hospital Board of India, Pune chapter, said the present notification was an extension of the previous resolution to cap treatment rates. “While most hospitals find these rates unaffordable, the amended notification is a blow for small and medium hospitals, which will be unable to survive after this further reduction,” said Dr Patil.

The notification that has divided areas into Class A, B and C cities has specified rates per day for routine ward and isolation, and ICU with ventilator and isolation. Class A cities, which include Mumbai, Pune and Nagpur among others, will continue to charge Rs 4,000 per day for routine treatment at isolation wards while Rs 9,000 would be charged for admission to ICU and ventilator beds.

However, charges in Class B and Class C cities have been revised. For Class B cities, the rates have been capped at Rs 3,000 for routine ward and isolation, and it is Rs 2,400 for Class C cities. The rates per day for ICU with ventilator and isolation for Class B cities and Class C cities is Rs 6,700 and Rs 5,400, respectively.

Class B cities include Nashik, Amravati, Aurangabad, Bhiwandi, Solapur, Kolhapur, Vasai-Virar, Malegaon, Nanded and Sangli. Places in other districts in Maharashtra fall under Class C cities.

These rates include monitoring and investigations, medication, oxygen charges, consultations, bed charges, nursing charges and meals. It excludes interventional procedures and high-end medication. While announcing the rates, state Health Minister Rajesh Tope had said that the charges will be reduced at tehsil and district-level hospitals.

While rates have been made cheaper at rural healthcare facilities, Dr Patil said small hospitals may have to shut down. “The Hospital Board of India, IMA, has at least 1,400 small and medium hospital owners as their members, of which 200 are in Pune. The cost of a jumbo oxygen cylinder in May last year was Rs 180. Today the cost is almost Rs 800. A Covid-19 patient in the ICU requires at least nine jumbo oxygen cylinders if he/she is on ventilation support. Hospitals are struggling with the present cap of Rs 9,000 per day and to further reduce it in rural areas would amount to closure of small healthcare facilities,” added Dr Patil.

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